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U.S. rider Sage Kotsenburg wins gold in Men's Slopestyle; Tahoe's Guldemond 15th

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Northstar California rider Chas Guldemond didn’t finish near the top, but that honor did go to an American. U.S. teammate Sage Kotsenburg captured the gold medal in Men’s Slopestyle.

Kotsenburg, a 20-year old from Park City, Utah, won the first gold medal of the Sochi Olympics and the first ever rewarded in the slopestyle event.

Guldemond took 15th and U.S. teammate Ryan Stassel was 14th. The pair did not compete in the medal round event. The semifinals and finals were both held Saturday.

Guldemond had a strong showing on the opening day of competition on Thursday. His score of 86.0 was good enough for fifth place in his heat.

Guldemond has been snowboarding since 1996, competing since 1997, and turned pro in 2006.

For the laid-back Kotsenburg, winning the gold wasn’t expected. By his own recollection, he hadn’t won a snowboard competition since he was 11.

“I’m pretty surprised I won, honestly,” he said. “Coming here and winning, I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s so cool.”

The slopestyle event — a steep snowboard course featuring long rails and big jumps — debuted at these Sochi Olympics and made headlines earlier in the week when American Shaun White, the most famous athlete the sport has known, dropped out of the competition.

By comparison, Kotsenburg was among the least-known participants.

A total of 20 riders hit the mountain Saturday morning, competing for one of four remaining spots in the afternoon finals. Kotsenburg posted the second-highest mark and was the only American to advance.

Impressed by Saturday’s run in the finals, the judges gave Kotsenburg a score of 93.5 in the finals. Norway's Staale Sandbech (91.75) claimed the silver, while Canadian Mark McMorris (88.75) rebounded from a tough qualification round to take the bronze.

Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson competes Sunday
The inaugural Olympic Women's slopestyle event final at the 2014 Winter Games is scheduled to take place Sunday at 1:15 am PST. Anderson, one of the favorites to win gold, place second in qualifying. She grew up skiing at Sierra-at-Tahoe.

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